Brain-eating parasite kills 10yo girl
A 10-year-old US girl who contracted a brain-eating amoeba parasite after going for a swim in a river, has died.
According to her family, Lily Mae Avant lost her battle with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis at a hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, over the weekend.
In a heartbreaking statement, her aunt Loni Yadon told NBC News that the young girl has "changed lives and brought unity to a divided nation".
"At this time, our baby is completely healed and in the arms of Jesus.
"We want everyone to know we appreciate their prayers and love and support."
The 10-year-old fell sick on Sunday, September 8, coming down with a fever a week after swimming in the Brazos River, near Fort Worth.
Lily Mae was placed into a medically-induced coma before she died, NBC DFW reports.
The family said she contracted Naegleria fowleri amoeba, a single-celled organism also known as "brain-eating" amoeba.
It is commonly found in warm freshwater and soil. People get infected when water containing the parasite enters through the nose where it can travel to the brain and destroy brain tissue.
The night Lily Mae fell ill, she complained she had a headache before contracting a fever.
The girl's first cousin, Wendy Scott, told NBC she was seen by a doctor that same night.
"They got it checked out," she said. "There were several viruses going around the school. It was assumed it's a virus because the symptoms are exactly the same, so she went home."
Over the next few days, her condition rapidly deteriorated, the young girl becoming incoherent before being taken to the emergency room.
"She was brought into the emergency room on Tuesday when she woke up unresponsive," Scott said. "She was eyes open, she was there, but she wasn't speaking. Nothing."
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the rare brain infection, called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), is almost always fatal.